Before renovation, they open buildings to the homeless

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Before renovation, they open buildings to the homeless

It is a building from the 1930s which must have had its charm, with its U-shape, its central courtyard, its six floors of yellow, beige and ocher roughcast, and its stairwells with Parma walls. Nearly 90 families of railway workers have lived here, in the residence on rue Jacques-Baudry, in the 15e district of Paris. But its small apartments no longer corresponded to modern living. After multiple studies, the lessor of the SNCF, ICF Habitat, decided that, rather than restructuring the building, it was better to demolish it and then rebuild it. Since 2018, one by one, the tenants have been relocated to other social housing, and, by the time construction begins, probably in 2023, different residents have settled.

Hall 6, Aboubakar, arrived in July 2022, visits his T4. Here the very small equipped kitchen. There, the living room, its giant screen facing the sofa, its table and its shelf, decorated by Madame. The master bedroom. Then the bathroom. And finally, at the very end of the corridor, the bedroom of the 5-year-old boy, and that of the 9-year-old twins, with bunk beds and a desk for doing homework. A cozy interior that makes Aboubakar visibly happy.

Before moving here in July 2022, her family had long been homeless. Arrived from Guinea-Conakry in 2016, they lived in social hotels in the four corners of Île-de-France. “Either we couldn’t cook for ourselves, or we had to share a kitchen with others”, he says. From 2018, they were welcomed in a shelter, and now, in this apartment, finally for themselves.

Since then, the family, accompanied by the Aurore association, has had its papers. Aboubakar has already completed his training in the security trades, and his wife is finishing hers to become a carer. Great news, they will soon be signing a lease in social housing. Their first real personal home.

Like Aboubakar, nearly 250 people have been able to have accommodation for a few years or a few months, thanks to the building on rue Baudry being made available for the time needed to begin construction there. A so-called “intercalary habitat” experience as it has been developing more and more over the past dozen years. At ICF Habitat, a pioneer lessor of this practice, which owns 100,000 SNCF housing units, the very first operation dates back to 2009. A Parisian hostel for rolling railway workers then made it possible to accommodate 160 homeless people during the winter period.

” On the one hand, explains Véronique Quéméré, territorial director of La Sablière, the Ile-de-France management of ICF, we had before us a series of demolitions-reconstructions. And on the other, the public authorities were looking for premises to house the homeless, especially in Paris where land is very tight. We then said to ourselves that we could offer these buildings rather than leaving them empty, with all the costs that that implies in terms of security. »

Initially, the initiative surprised. “The main fear in this case is that the people have not left when we have to start the work”, continues Véronique Quéméré. ICF then decides to work with Aurore, with whom she has a relationship of trust. On the scheduled date, the association had relocated those accompanied and emptied the premises. Bet won. A second partnership, then a third, then others with different associations then follow. Since 2009, ICF La Sablière has provided 1,150 housing units in Île-de-France.

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At the same time, Aurore is also developing her expertise. In 2012, the State entrusted him with the 10,000 m2 left empty by the departure of the National Institute of Intellectual Property. In the old offices, the association installs homeless people but also social entrepreneurs and brings in volunteers. This initiative will inspire the Grands Voisins, an emblematic Parisian third place installed on the site of the former Saint-Vincent-de-Paul hospital between 2015 and 2020. Nearly a thousand homeless people have been housed in the middle of a hive of activities open to the neighborhood.

“These somewhat magical experiences paved the way, explains Florian Guyot, general manager of Aurore. We do infill on a wide variety of sites, from office buildings to housing bars, including a former Citroën garage. But the more work there is to do, the longer the provision must take to be profitable. »

The lessor, who saves on guarding, makes the building available, free of charge or not. As for the association, it supports the upgrading and pays the social workers, in a budget that must fit into the envelope given by the State to support the public. “With less than two years of availability, it’s complicated, continues Florian Guyot. Especially since we need time to find rehousing solutions for everyone. »

But “the interlayer has allowed great successes, says Sihem Habchi, director of activities at Aurore. This makes it possible to house people in something other than gymnasiums and it boosts social work, because not only do we have to rehouse quickly, but they are also places that are generally very open to partnerships and volunteers. » A dynamic that is now spreading to other cities such as Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Rennes and Montpellier.

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